Oh boy… I know it’s been a while I haven’t jumped on my keyboard and write something around here. I’ve missed you guys, like, really, but I’ve been crazy busy this second part of 2018.
I probably owe you maltyheads friends a catch-up ? I published a quick instastory yesterday (hey, if you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you, you can still follow me on Instagram – @thewhiskylady – which is probably the only network I’m active on x)) summarizing my year 2018 month by month.
2018 was the first full year for The Hopscotch Pub & Brewery, and what an intense, glorious, stressful but immensely productive year it was ! Amongst many great events and encounters, we released our first range of bottled beers, our first selected whisky bottling with Compass Box, developped merchandising, improved our offer (350 whiskies behind the counter and still counting), service and premises month after month, we brought all our bar team to Scotland to tour distilleries and breweries, celebrated our first barnniversary, held many TTOs, whisky tastings and organised our own whisky festival. Oh and let me tell you that we’re not going to slow things down in 2019 as many projects are on the pipeline, including the second edition of our Toulouse Whisky Festival which should be epic.
On a more personal level, I joined the crazy BREWDOG team as a beer ambassador for the South of France early July and yeap, the first 6 months in a new role are always the most time-consuming, intense and enriching, meaning I had less time to allow to my blogging activities as I was spending more time drinking and talking craft beer.
Why would I decide to work in the beer industry and step aside from whisky ? First things first, I haven’t stepped aside from whisky and both industries have A LOT in common. As much as I enjoy my whisky, I had reached a point mid-2018 where it started to feel too much like “work” rather than “fun” and as soon as it happens I knew I needed to take action, because there’s no worse feeling than having a dram with friends and not being able to enjoy it because your stupid brain can’t help but overthinking the liquid your body is absorbing – “ooooh this is thick and oily and I feel nice aromas of coconut oil and … hmmm what’s this in the background, I know it rrrr, come on what is it….bdbczubuzefbrf! #OUTOFSERVICE”. I know many of you working in the whisky industry know exactly what I mean, I’ve discussed this with a lot of you along this last year and I feel I have taken the best decision : go drink some beer instead and whisky will naturally come back in your heart. It did, thanks god.
I am now embracing a new approach to whisky appreciation which basically consists of not giving a single fuck. I drink whisky when I feel like it, I only take it seriously when I’m paid for it and I don’t feel bad for ordering a cider instead of a dram. So as you can imagine, I haven’t tasted as many whiskies this year as the previous years, but the ones I’ve sampled felt pretty special and not just a number on a list (we’ll get to my “best of 2018” at the end of the article ;))
I’ve also cleared my sample library lately and that felt so good, I had been keeping half empty, doubles or samples I knew I would never open for far too long, gathering dust pretty much everywhere in my house (mind you, there were even boxes of samples under my bed). Don’t freak out, I didn’t throw anything away but gave them to people around me that were quite happy! My shelves clearer made my mind clearer as well and I now feel more than ready to start 2019 !
On another bright side, I had the chance to contribute to new publications in 2018, work alongside genuinely awesome and inspiring people and finished the year by signing my first book deal \o/ – I cannot wait for the second part of 2019 to have the very first hard copy in my hands now (French material though, so you’d better start the French lessons right now :p)
So let’s get into it, you’ve been waiting for it hm? My best drams of 2018(as usual I have voluntarily decided to stick to rather affordable whiskies) !
Cotswolds Debut Single Malt “Very exciting stuff here, folks! This is the first single malt whisky from the Cotswolds Distillery (as well as being the first single malt whisky ever distilled in the Cotswold countryside!). A much-anticipated release, which has been produced using barley grown in the Cotswolds, distilled in their Forsyths copper pot stills (Mary & Janis) and aged in a combination of ex-bourbon and red wine casks.”
Port Charlotte MRC:01 2010 “With over 200 different cask types maturing in our warehouses, our cask exploration series showcases the influence of wood on our heavily peated spirit. Bottled at 59.2% alcohol and in limited numbers, we introduce the Port Charlotte MRC:01 2010. Distilled from 100% Scottish barley, from the Invernesshire region, this sweet and fruity spirit has spent time in first fill American whiskey casks and second fill French wine casks. These component parts have been combined and matured for an extra year in the finest French oak from the Bordeaux left bank.”
Teeling Revival V “The Revival Vol. V joins Teeling Whiskey’s range of award winning Irish whiskeys, which have collected over 175 international awards over the last five years. The fifth bottling of The Revival consists of 12-Year-Old Single Malt that was aged initially in ex-Bourbon barrels before being finished in a combination of Cognac and Brandy barrels, imparting distinct hints of toasted almonds and freshly pressed grapes. Limited to just 15,000 bottles, the resulting Single Malt is then bottled at 46% with no chill filtration, a signature of all Teeling Whiskeys.”
The Revival Vol. V joins Teeling Whiskey’s range of award winning Irish whiskeys, which have collected over 175 international awards over the last five years. The fifth bottling of The Revival consists of 12-Year-Old Single Malt that was aged initially in ex-Bourbon barrels before being finished in a combination of Cognac and Brandy barrels, imparting distinct hints of toasted almonds and freshly pressed grapes. Limited to just 15,000 bottles, the resulting Single Malt is then bottled at 46% with no chill filtration, a signature of all Teeling Whiskeys.
Glendronach 15 Revival – 2018 “The revived Glendronach Revival: a whisky whose original incarnation was so popular that we drank all of it. It’s back with a new recipe thanks to master blender Rachel Barrie, combining both oloroso and PX casks into a rich sherry-monster that’s packed with spice and fruit. We don’t think it’s going to disappear of the shelves again, but when it comes to Glendronach 15 Year Old, we always recommend stocking up.”
High Coast Quercus III “Quercus is a range from High Coast /Former Box Distillery/ where we try to explore the tastes that different species of oak gives to the whisky. The third edition is named Petraea after the Sessile Oak, Quercus petraea in Latin. Quercus petraea is common all over Europe mainly in the eastern parts and it is widely used in the wine industry, and it meant to be the premiere choice for maturing white wines. Quercus petraea has higher density and tighter rings of growth which results in lower evaporation and less lactones.”
Westland Garryana 3.1 “With Garry Oak, we’re managing a resource that is, by its very nature, scarce—whether out in the world or in the aisles of our rackhouse. What we have to work with one year is altogether different the next. But this fluctuation in supply is what ultimately makes Garryana so challenging and thus so interesting. So we asked three different people who are intricately involved in developing our Native Oak program to share their experiences working with Garry Oak.” Read More
Method & Madness Single Pot Still “Ever tried a whisky aged in chestnut wood before? We thought not! This also spends time in bourbon and sherry casks, adding layers of Christmas spices and tropical fruit. Absolutely delicious.”